When's the last time the Mets had a weekend as good as this one? Maybe the weekend of October 7, 2006, when they finished off a first-round sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers, their last postseason series victory? We dunno: That was obviously a positive Friday night, but no one remembers that game in particular and all told, the Mets have had bigger moments in their history. Do we have to go all the way back to October 1986 and those two Game 6 and Game 7 wins? That might sound ridiculous, but hey, the idea that the Mets were ever going to throw a no-hitter sounded ridiculous 90 hours ago too.
The shine after Johan Santana's still staggering no-hitter Friday night wouldn't have dimmed even had the Mets lost their next two games 42–0, but the Mets essentially did the opposite of that: They were just as dominant the rest of the weekend. R.A. Dickey tossed another shutout on Saturday, and Jon Niese pitched one of the best games of his career last night, and suddenly the Mets not only had humiliated the team with the best run differential in the National League, those hated (and beloved, of course) St. Louis Cardinals, but they were also in first place.
All right, so it's just a matter of percentages, but still: The Mets are currently in a three-way tie for first place with the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins. It's the first time the Mets have been in first place on June 4 since 2007 — on June 3 that year, by the way, Julio Franco pinch hit for Oliver Perez — and honestly, it's really rather insane. The Mets are flying high, and the strange thing is, this is starting to look less like a fluke and more like something that's potentially sustainable.
The reason is the starting pitching, which is starting to look downright formidable. In Santana (who's getting an extra day off after throwing so many pitches on Friday) and Dickey, they have two legitimate aces, and Niese and Dillon Gee have shown to be solid No. 3 and 4 starters, with more upside in their immediate future. The fifth starter spot is in flux — Tall Chris Young is about to come up from Buffalo and take a shot at it — but Matt Harvey is killing at Buffalo and Zack Wheeler is even better at Binghamton. With that rotation, you don't have to score that many runs.
One shouldn't get carried away, of course. The Mets still have a negative run differential, and the only reason the bullpen didn't cause Mets fans any headaches this weekend is because it barely pitched. But this would be a pretty dumb time to start being skeptical of anything involving the Mets. Johan Santana threw the Mets' first no-hitter. That monkey is finally off the franchise's back. It's the 50th anniversary season. The Mets are in first place. It's full double rainbow, people. If you can't enjoy this as a Mets fan, you're actively not trying. There's one more game with the Cardinals at 1:10 p.m. today. If you leave now, you can get there in time to see the furry animals prancing through the forest and all the players levitating above their spots on the field. This is as good and warm and fulfilling as being a Mets fan has been for quite some time.
Let's do our If a National Tragedy Befell Us and the Season Ended Today business. The Mets, because of the Nationals' percentage advantage, technically would be in the wild-card game, though they'd work to break this tie, somehow. Here's how it would look:
New York Yankees/Baltimore Orioles (Wild Card coin-flip winner) versus Texas Rangers
Chicago White Sox versus Tampa Bay Rays
New York Mets/Miami Marlins (Wild Card coin-flip winner) versus Los Angeles Dodgers
Cincinnati Reds versus Washington Nationals
After the Cardinals series ends today, the Mets begin a tough road trip tomorrow, heading to Washington for three games, then to Yankee Stadium for three more. Their next eighteen games are against teams who would be in the playoffs if the season ended today (Yankees/Orioles/Rays/Reds). This might be as good as it gets for a while. But that doesn't change how good it is, right now.